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Maureen Lane

New York State Assembly Turns up the Heat

Today the New York Assembly introduced and important bill, A9281, which will provide $200 million to augment the existing federal low income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). The appropriation will also ensure that the program has adequate funds for emergency grants, which prevent low-income households from having their electricity or gas shut-off due to an inability to pay.

According to the Assembly website, the HEAP program had more than 822,000 beneficiaries in New York State. Eligible households that pay directly for heat receive a HEAP benefit amount ranging from $150-$400 and eligible households that do not pay directly for heat receive a standard statewide benefit of $40 or $50 depending on income level.

This program helps our neediest neighbors. HEAP eligibility in New York is based on household size and income; for example, gross monthly income for a household of two must be at or below $2,358 and for a household of four must be at or below $3,468. "It's essential that we provide assistance to struggling families across New York State to ensure that they have access to the fuel they need to keep warm without having to go hungry in order to do it," said Assembly Social Services Committee chair, Deborah J. Glick.

"An AARP study released yesterday showed that 20 percent of seniors are foregoing needed medications to pay for their heat and 80 percent of New Yorkers believe the state should help those who cannot afford the huge increase in their bills, said Assembly Aging Committee chair, Steve Englebright. "This important legislation will ensure that older New Yorkers and families throughout the state will not be placed in harm's way because of inadequate federal funding for heating assistance. We urge the Senate and governor to join us in this endeavor."

(For some insight into why I think the funds were cut read my blog post "Gaming the Wildlife: the art of misdirection")

We urge the New York State Senate to move on this measure, as recent stories in the press show, cold can be lethal. This is a bi-partisan safety issue for families in New York that spans the generations with its impact. Let's get it done!

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:46 PM, Jan 10, 2006 in New York | Welfare | public services
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